Uttar Pradesh Dalit girl, victim of brutal gang rape, dies in Delhi hospital

She was brutally raped by four men in U.P. village

September 29, 2020 10:29 am | Updated September 30, 2020 12:01 am IST - Ghaziabad

File photo for representation.

File photo for representation.

The 19-year-old Dalit girl from Hathras village in Uttar Pradesh, who was brutally assaulted by four upper-caste men, succumbed to injuries in Delhi’s Safdarjang Hospital in the early hours of Tuesday.

The incident occurred on September 14 when the girl went to collect animal fodder from a field with her mother. The girl was allegedly gang-raped, and later strangulated and dragged with her dupatta.

She was shifted to Delhi from Aligarh’s J.N. Medical College Hospital (JNMCH) on Monday at the request of her father.

Speaking to The Hindu , the girl’s brother, waiting for the mortal remains to arrive from Delhi, demanded justice for his younger sister. “Though there is dominance of one caste in the village, I came to know about my sister being targeted by these men only when she recorded her statement. They told her if she didn’t submit to their ‘demands’, they would shoot her brother dead,” he said. Even when she was in the hospital, he added, they were threatened with dire consequences.

Local sources talked of an old animosity between the Valmiki and Thakur families, and said it was local Dalit leaders and parties that had pushed the administration to take action.

Members of the Azad Samaj Party, whose leader Chandra Shekhar Azad met the girl in JNMCH, alleged that the administration had delayed in referring her to Delhi, and that the facilities in Aligarh were inadequate. They protested in front of the Safdarjung Hospital.

“From delay in the arrest to dilly-dallying in shifting her to Delhi, the administration’s role is questionable,” said Harpal Singh, head of the Agra division of the Azad Samaj Party. “We demand proper compensation and that the case should be heard in a fast track court so that the monsters can be sent to the gallows as soon as possible.”

Till late night, the body was not handed over to the family members as officials feared that they would not head to Hathras and continue to protest in Delhi. Sources in the Azad Samaj Party said they would move only when the Chief Minister or a senior Minister arrived or made a statement. "It seems they are not realising the gravity of the case," said Mr. Singh.

Fakhrul Hoda, head of the Neurosurgery Department of Aligarh Medical College said the victim had suffered permanent damage to the spinal cord because of fractures in the second and third vertebrae in the neck region, and that the doctors had been waiting for her to stabilise to operating on her. “The medical facilities that were required for her were available at the hospital. She was in the ICU and was put on a ventilator when her oxygen saturation dropped,” he told The Hindu .

Dr. Hoda said the victim was in a quadriplegic condition and doctors in at Safdarjang Hospital would also have had to wait for her condition to stabilise. On whether her tongue had been sliced, Dr. Hoda said that prima facie , it appeared that the tongue had come between her teeth when she was strangulated. “It happens in such cases,” he said.

Hathras police have arrested the four accused — Sandip, Ramu, Lavkush and Ravi — under Sections pertaining to murder and gang rape. Senior Superintendent of Police Vikrant Vir transferred the Station House Office of the Chandpa police station to Police Lines for failing to promptly act in the case.

Reacting to the delay in police action, Prakash Singh, Assistant Superintendent of Police, Hathras, said the victim’s brother had complained of assault on his sister and an FIR had been registered under Section 307 and 356 of the IPC, and relevant sections of the SC/ST Act, on September 14. “The accused Sandeep was arrested on September 20. When the girl’s condition somewhat stabilised, a Circle Officer went to record her statement in hospital, where she alleged gang rape and took names of three more persons. They were also arrested within a couple of days,” he said, adding that they would now be charged with murder.

Brahm Singh, Circle Officer, Sadabad, who recorded the statement of the victim on September 22, said her physical examination to determine rape was done after she alleged gang-rape by four men. “How could it have been done earlier?” he asked. When the circumstances under which the girl was found was mentioned, he refused to comment and said samples had been sent to the forensic lab in Agra and results were awaited.

Sources in JNMCH also indicated that there had been “procedural delays possibly because of pressure from the administration”. “It could hamper the forensic investigation,” said a doctor who was part of the process.

Denying any laxity on the part of the administration, District Magistrate Praveen Kumar Lakshkar said that he had been constantly in touch with the father of the girl. “He was apprehensive about taking the victim to Delhi by road,” said Mr. Lakshkar, adding that there was no law and order situation in the village. “But we are not taking any chances and police presence has been increased in the village.”

The case created ripples across the political spectrum. Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra reminded Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath of his responsibility. In a tweet, she said: “Chief Minister is responsible for the safety of women in the State...The killers should get the severest possible punishment.” Members of the Congress demonstrated at New Delhi’s Vijay Chowk.

Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati demanded all possible support for the aggrieved family, and that the case should be heard in a fast track court.

In a tweet, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav said there was no hope left from “this insensitive government”.

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